Plans to bundle up under a warm blanket with a cup of hot cocoa, far away from city light pollution, to watch a dazzling meteor shower, may be affected by clouds moving into Central Oregon overnight.
The Geminid Meteor shower has been seen in the night sky for the last week, but it expected to peak Thursday night into Friday morning.
The showers occur every year as Earth passes through the debris tail of a space object called 3200 Phaethon, which is classified as an extinct comet.
“Basically, it is the rocky skeleton of a comet that lost its ice after too many close encounters with the sun,” said Janet Anderson of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.
“Earth runs into a stream of debris from 3200 Phaethon every year in mid-December, causing meteors to fly from the constellation Gemini,” she said.
But clear skies across Central Oregon Thursday will not linger long into the overnight hours. A storm system approaching from the northwest will bring clouds over the region, possibly making it difficult to see the meteors.
The peak hour is expected between 1 and 2 a.m. with up to 100 meteors possible an hour.
Those planning on venturing out overnight to watch the showers need to prepare for cold temperatures. Lows overnight are expected to fall to the upper teens to lower 20s for many locations across the High Desert.
Another way to enjoy the Geminid Meteor shower tonight is to watch a live stream by NASA from the comfort of your computer by clicking on the following link: www.nasa.gov/connect/chat/geminids2012.html